Acts of Love: Ancient Greek Poetry from Aphrodite's Garden

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Modern Library, 2006 - Poetry - 137 pages
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Everything the flower-loving bee you’re named for does,
you do, my Melissa, and I take it to heart.
You drop honey from your lips when you sweetly kiss,
and when you want money, can give a mean sting.

The ancient poetry gathered in Acts of Love pays tart and tender tribute to passion, and to the power that Aphrodite and her son, Eros, hold over mortals–male and female, young and old. With vivid and surprisingly modern language, these poems and epigrams remind us how little, in ways of the heart, the human condition changes over time.
Ardent, ecstatic, ironic, despairing, and brilliantly witty, these marvelous verses celebrate every aspect of love. Some are lyrical (“O feet, shins, thighs that just destroy me . . . O little cries that stir me!”) some are flippant (“You with the roses, you’re pretty rosy yourself. / So what’s for sale? You? The roses? Or both?”). Others display come-ons (“Since you’re so open to strangers, / how about a little drink for me”) and put-downs (“As for / Neoboule, some other guy can have her. / Hey, she’s overripe and twice your age”).
Eminent poet and scholar George Economou has translated this fresh bouquet of love poems primarily from sources stretching back to the originals by way of the classic compilation The Greek Anthology.

The poems span many centuries, focusing on the Greek writers’ rich and varied expressions of physical passion. Such is the quality of Economou’s direct and idiomatic translations that the poems manage to embrace their ancient origins and the moods of today’s erotic encounters.

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Acts of love: ancient Greek poetry from Aphrodite's garden

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There are, in English, few ways to talk about sex without using vulgarities, euphemism, or jargon, which presents a problem for translators of ancient love poetry. Enter poet and scholar Economou, who ... Read full review



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About the author (2006)

George Economou, graduated from Colgate University and received his MA and Ph.D. from Columbia University. Professor emeritus of English at the University of Oklahoma, he is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Century Dead Center, and numerous translations from ancient and modern Greek. A critic and scholar of medieval literature, he has translated William Langland’s Piers Plowman and written and edited several books, including The Goddess Natura in Medieval Literature. He is the recipient of numerous fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Wendy Doniger graduated from Radcliffe College and received her Ph.D. from Harvard University and her D.Phil. from Oxford University. She is the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago and the author of many books, most recently The Bedtrick: Tales of Sex and Masquerade and The Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was.

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